Website speed is a huge part of your online brand. Why? Because a faster website greatly improves user experience and results in happy visitors. Site speed is even included as part of Google’s search ranking algorithm. In short – a faster website can also result in improved search rankings.
How to measure site speed
Where do you start? Measuring site speed is fairly simple and the first step in helping you measure current performance. You can use any of these tools:
You can also access the Behavior > Site Speed section within Google Analytics for a more in-depth overview.
How to improve WordPress site speed
As a very rough rule of thumb, a site speed over 5 seconds requires immediate action. But how can you improve site speed? Here are five quick ways:
1. Improve Hosting
If you’re serious about improving your website speed, upgrading your hosting plan may be a quick win. This is especially true if you’re currently on a shared hosting plan and your site is gradually growing into a high-traffic website. A Managed Hosting provider that is specifically designed for WordPress, such as WP Engine, will certainly help you achieve the desired speed. Due to their WordPress-specific specialization, Managed Hosting providers offer optimal caching, security and support for WordPress sites.
2. Delete Unnecessary Plugins
WordPress.org lists deleting excess plugins plugins as the first and easiest way to improve WordPress performance. The reason for this? The more plugins, the more code the browser has to load, which slows down performance. As a first step, deactivate or delete any unnecessary plugins and check if the site loads faster. Alternatively, you can use a plugin profiler (such as P3) to narrow down plugins that are slowing down your WordPress site.
3. Choose a solid framework/theme
A website’s appearance and content are typically built on a framework. Theme frameworks largely reduce development time and offer significant functionality and customization options. Sounds good, right? However, frameworks also come with tons of built-in options that you may not need, so it’s important to go for a theme that is built on a robust, yet lean, framework (like the Genesis Theme Framework).
4. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) places your website files and images in different locations around the globe so that a visitor accessing your website will retrieve the nearest copy of the requested content. Who can benefit from a CDN? If your site contains large media files (such as images or videos) with heavy traffic from different locations around the world, a CDN will greatly boost performance. Load times are not something you can ignore.
“While load times aren’t as heavily weighted as links, engagement signals are becoming increasingly important. Searchers—especially on mobile—are accustomed to speed. High bounce rates and pogosticking back to search results can negative impact organic search rankings.” - Kyle Sanders, Head of Search at CWR.
5. Use a Caching Plugin
Caching can greatly mitigate any slowness issues. A WordPress caching plugin creates a static HTML page of every page on your site. What does this mean? With caching, visitors won’t make requests to your server each time they land on your site. This will significantly speed up your website. There are a number of great caching plugins available for WordPress, including W3 Total Cache and WP Rocket.
There are many ways to improve your WordPress website speed and implementing even a few of the suggestions above should help. Remember to make one change at a time so you can understand what is working and how each change is affecting performance. Tuning, testing and re-tuning website speed is the way to go.
Did you find these tips helpful? Please share your own tips or results in the comments below.